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Republic of the Philippines character, and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude,

SUPREME COURT have been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.
Manila
Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of
EN BANC his reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all
the qualifications and has none of the disqualifications for membership in the
B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007 bar. It recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice of law in the
Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyer’s oath to remind him of his
duties and responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar.
PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW,
BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.
We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with
certain modifications.
RESOLUTION
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The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. It is so delicately
CORONA, J.: affected with public interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State
(through this Court) to control and regulate it in order to protect and promote
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This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for the public welfare.
leave to resume the practice of law.
Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest
Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law degree of morality, faithful observance of the rules of the legal profession,
until he migrated to Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for compliance with the mandatory continuing legal education requirement and
his ailments. He subsequently applied for Canadian citizenship to avail of payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) are
Canada’s free medical aid program. His application was approved and he the conditions required for membership in good standing in the bar and for
became a Canadian citizen in May 2004. enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these
conditions makes him unworthy of the trust and confidence which the courts
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and clients repose in him for the continued exercise of his professional
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and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine privilege.
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citizenship. On that day, he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen
before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:
returned to the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There
is a question, however, whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his SECTION 1. Who may practice law. – Any person heretofore duly
membership in the Philippine bar when he gave up his Philippine citizenship admitted as a member of the bar, or thereafter admitted as such in
in May 2004. Thus, this petition. accordance with the provisions of this Rule, and who is in good and
regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites
Section 2, Rule 138 (Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court: Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in
accordance with the statutory requirements and who is in good and regular
SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. standing is entitled to practice law.
– Every applicant for admission as a member of the bar must be a
citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court
moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and must produce mandates that an applicant for admission to the bar be a citizen of the
before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character and a
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resident of the Philippines. He must also produce before this Court citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first
satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no charges against secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:
him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in
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the Philippines. (a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues
in the IBP;
Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing
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satisfactory proof of educational, moral and other qualifications; passing the (b) the payment of professional tax;
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bar examinations; taking the lawyer’s oath and signing the roll of attorneys
and receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate of the license to
practice.
10 (c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing
legal education; this is specially significant to refresh the
applicant/petitioner’s knowledge of Philippine laws and update him
The second requisite for the practice of law ― membership in good standing of legal developments and
― is a continuing requirement. This means continued membership and,
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concomitantly, payment of annual membership dues in the IBP; payment of
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the annual professional tax; compliance with the mandatory continuing legal (d) the retaking of the lawyer’s oath which will not only remind him
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education requirement; faithful observance of the rules and ethics of the of his duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the
legal profession and being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.
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Republic of the Philippines.
Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still
practice law in the Philippines? No. Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member
of the Philippine bar.
The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines
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shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law. Since WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is
Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof hereby GRANTED, subject to compliance with the conditions stated above
terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar Confidant, after which
to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar.
citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines.
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The practice of law is a privilege denied to foreigners. SO ORDERED.

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization Puno, C.J., Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez,
as a citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Reyes,
9225. This is because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another Leonardo-de Castro, JJ., concur.
country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the Quisumbing, J., on leave.
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conditions of [RA 9225]." Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen
of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if
he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed
never to have terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic
right to resume law practice accrues.
Footnotes
Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the 1
Philippines and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions As evidence thereof, he submitted a copy of his Identification
"(he) shall apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in Certificate No. 07-16912 duly signed by Immigration Commissioner
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such practice." Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino Marcelino C. Libanan.
2 18
In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Deliquency of Atty. Section 5(4), id.
Marcial A. Edillon, A.C. No. 1928, 19 December 1980, 101 SCRA
612.

3
Heck v. Santos, A.M. No. RTJ-01-1657, 23 February 2004, 423
SCRA 329.

4
In re Atty. Marcial Edillon, A.C. No. 1928, 03 August 1978, 84 SCRA
554.

5
Section 2, Rule 138, Rules of Court.

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Id.

7
Sections 2, 5 and 6, id.

8
Sections 8 to 11 and 14, id.

9
Section 17, id.

10
Sections 18 and 19, id.

11
In re Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, 09 January 1973, 49
SCRA 22; In re Atty. Marcial Edillon, supra note 3.

12
Section 139, RA 7160.

13
Resolution dated August 8, 2000 in Bar Matter No. 850 (Rules on
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education for Members of the IBP).

14
Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions v. Binalbagan Isabela
Sugar Co., G.R. No. L-23959, 29 November 1971, 42 SCRA 302.

15
See last paragraph of Section 14, Article XII.

16
In re Bosque, 1 Phil. 88 (1902).

17
Section 2, RA 9225. Emphasis supplied.